At last week's New Media Marketing Conference in Johannesburg, Rick Joubert from Vodacom told the audience that last year mobile advertising spend equaled that of online ad spend and it is predicted that by 2011 mobile ad spend in South Africa will rise to R1.5 billion.
It makes perfect sense. The mobile penetration in South Africa is just over 80%, and 37% of these users have access to the Internet using their cellphones. It is no surprise, then, that the recently launched Google South Africa is focused on mobile search, and the advertising opportunity that comes with it.
In November 2007, Google launched its Mobile Ads here. The ads work pretty much like the Adwords text ads that advertisers are used to: the ads appear in search results, they use the PPC (pay per click) model and they are contextual. The only difference is that now they appear on the cellphone.
Need to catch up
So far, according to Google, 99.5% of the mobile ads used in SA thus far have come from non-SA advertisers. So we need to start catching up.
The ads appear above and below mobile search results, and have slightly less characters than the common web-based ads. And although advertisers can link them to their regular web page, Google allows the set up of free AdWords Business Pages for mobile ads service. Ads can of course be targeted and scheduled, and are created using the advertisers' AdWords account.
It is important to differentiate between mobile ads and mobile spamming. Neither Vodacom nor Google support the latter, and no spam messages are included in the statistics quoted by these companies.
If you are still doubtful about the viability of the mobile ad model, think about this: the mobile medium has twice the reach of TV, three times the reach of Internet, a built-in payment mechanism, and the audience can be correctly identified. As Rick Joubert says, "Brands want reach, targeting, frequency and a response. Mobile delivers all four."
With Google setting up a local presence and infrastructure, SA advertisers are well-positioned to now take advantage of this exciting medium.
Eve Dmochowska is the idea facilitator at IdeaBank (www.ideabank.co.za)and keeps her time busy strategising the Internet space, deciphering the world of Web 2.0, and publishing the Internet Guide magazine (www.internetmagazine.co.za). She can be contacted at .
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